Small-Gauge Scholarship

We began the first issue of Mediapolis with an editorial, staking out the vision that we had for the journal. Central to that vision was the idea that Mediapolis could help facilitate a more robust and responsive conversation about cities and culture, through the publication of what we called “small-gauge” scholarship:

We imagine Mediapolis as a site for what we think of as “small-gauge” scholarship, in recognition of the fact that ideas circulate faster today than they ever have, but our publishing models struggle to keep pace.

We used the phrase “small-gauge” in a manner that was both purposeful and open-ended. We suggested several examples of what we understood to be small-gauge scholarship – moderated roundtable discussions, interviews with policymakers and practitioners, and essays on the practice of teaching urban culture, to cite but a few. But the definition of the term was left intentionally vague, in large part because the editors didn’t precisely know what kind of boundaries we should draw. Yet to our surprise, out of everything we published in that first issue, we received the most feedback about that phrase, “small-gauge.”

That response serves as the impetus for this roundtable. Our goal with this discussion is to spend some time talking about what precisely we mean by “small-gauge scholarship”: what it looks like, what purpose it serves, and how it fits into the broader scholarly conversation. To that end, we’ve convened an eclectic panel with varying perspectives on the topic.

Small-Gauge Scholarship: An Introduction (June 15, 2016)

In the first entry to the roundtable, Mediapolis co-editor Brendan Kredell introduces the issues and the panelists discussing them.

The Genealogy of Small Gauge (June 16, 2016)

In the second entry, Kevin T. Allen explores the genealogy of the term “small-gauge” inside and outside of its media contexts, and discusses how the concept bears on his own work.

Developing a Small-Gauge Ethos for Scholarship and Art (June 17, 2016)

With this entry, Jennifer Heuson identifies a “small-gauge ethos” in her research and her artwork.

Small-Gauge Storytelling (June 20, 2016)

In this entry to our small-gauge roundtable, Carla Nappi ponders the role of the scholar as an “explorer-stumbler,” and the importance of storytelling as an act of worldmaking.

Small-Gauge as Environmental and Ordinary (June 22, 2016)

With this contribution to this issue’s roundtable discussion, Scott Rodgers prompts us to think about how small-gauge modes of communication and scholarship are reconstituting the “environment” of the academic world.

Threading the Labyrinth: Small-Gauge Approaches to the Urban (June 24, 2016)

In her response to the first round of our discussion, Erica Stein identifies some intersections and suggests some new directions moving forward.

The Importance of “Looking Through” (June 27, 2016)

Kevin Allen begins the second round of our discussion with a reflection on being mindful of what we are looking through when we look at the world.

Small-Gauge Attunements for Critical Knowledge Making (July 1, 2016)

In this entry to our ongoing roundtable, Jen Heuson considers what kinds of knowledge are produced by small-gauge scholarship.

Small-Gauge as Remediating and Metamedial (July 4, 2016)

In his second essay, Scott Rodgers asks how new forms of digital media challenge our assumptions about the project of small-gauge scholarship.

Small-Gauge Cities (July 7, 2016)

Taking up Erica Stein’s challenge to think about the applicability of small-gauge scholarship to the city, Carla Nappi lays out the case for what a small-gauge approach to the urban could look like.